From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain Second Peter and Jude             Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018



List of All Sources Quoted At End of File










3:1                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     This letter which I am now writing to you, dear friends, is my second letter. In both my letters I seek to revive in your honest minds the memory of certain things,

WEB:              This is now, beloved, the second letter that I have written to you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by reminding you;

Young’s:         This, now, beloved, a second letter to you I write, in both which I stir up your pure mind in reminding you,

Conte (RC):    Consider, most beloved, this second

epistle which I am writing to you, in which I stir up,

by admonition, your sincere mind,


3:1                   This second epistle.  Rather, This now second epistle I write, beloved; or, This epistle, already a second one—implying that no very long time has elapsed since his first letter, and that this one is addressed to pretty much the same circle of readers.  There is no indication that the first two chapters are one letter, and that this is the beginning of another, as has been supposed.  With this use of “now,” or “already,” compare John 21:14.  [46]

                        In the stress laid on this being the “second Epistle” we have a fact which compels us to choose between identity of authorship for both Epistles, or a deliberate imposture as regards the second.  [38]

                        In its phraseology and formality this verse reads rather like the opening of an epistle.  Hence it has been supposed that chapter 3 is a separate epistle combined by mistake with 1 and 2.  But this verse is, in reality, an emphatic resumption of 1:12-13, intended to lay special stress on the explanation of the appearance of the false teachers.  [45]

beloved.  The language showing his deep affection for the Christians he is writing to.  [rw]

I now write unto you.  They did not have to rely upon verbal messages passed on to them or reports of his preaching.  They had before them his personal communication specifically sent with them in mind.  [rw]    

                        in both which.  The Apostle declares emphatically that he is writing already a second letter to the congregations of Asia Minor, but that at bottom the second has the same purpose as the first.  [9]

I stir up.  Implying that previously they had not really been thinking much about this matter, but that it was his intent to make them give it the full attention it deserved.  [rw] 

your pure [sincere, ESV, NASB] minds.  In both letters his object was mainly to exhort them to holy lives.  [22]

The word for “pure” is found in Philippians 1:10, the corresponding noun in 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 1:12, 2:17.  Its primary application is to that which will bear the full test of being examined by sunlight, and so it carries with it the sense of a transparent sincerity.  Its exact opposite is described in Ephesians 4:18, “having the understanding” (the same Greek word as that here rendered “mind”) darkened.  [38]

The word rendered “pure” ( εἰλικρινής eilikrinēs) properly refers to “that which may be judged of in sunshine;” then it means “clear, manifest;” and then “sincere, pure”--as that in which there is no obscurity.  The idea here perhaps is, that their minds were open, frank, candid, sincere, rather than that they were “pure.”  The apostle regarded them as “disposed” to see the truth, and yet as liable to be led astray by the plausible errors of others.  Such minds need to have truths often brought fresh to their remembrance, though they are truths with which they had before been familiar.  [31]

The term [“pure” found here] has a definite ethical sense in the N.T., which goes beyond anything it has in Classical Greek.  With a near approach to a complete account Archbishop Trench defines it as a grace which “will exclude all double-mindedness, the divided heart (James 1:8; 4:8), the eye not single (Matthew 6:22), all hypocrisies (1 Peter 2:1).”  [51]

minds.  The active, practical intellect.  While the judgment of the false teachers was vitiated by self-indulgence and self-interest, faithful believers had their minds clear of any such distracting influences; they were “single-minded.”  If they exercised their moral faculty they would decide rightly; the only danger lay in their being overawed by the apparent authority of the false teachers; hence the writer “stirs up their sincere mind.”  [45]

The word for “mind” means “the faculty of moral reflection and moral understanding,” which Peter, in his First Epistle (1:13), tells his readers to brace up and keep ready for constant use.  [46]

by way of remembrance.  What I have to say is nothing new.  It is something you’ve heard before.  Nevertheless you need to be reminded of it lest it slip from your mind as misleading teachers attempt to “bend” you toward their doctrines, i.e., the truth is antithetical to what they are advocating no matter how skillfully and ably they present their arguments.  [rw] 




3:2                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     so that you may recall the words spoken long ago by the holy Prophets, and the commandments of our Lord and Saviour given you through your Apostles.

WEB:              that you should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior:

Young’s:         to be mindful of the sayings said before by the holy prophets, and of the command of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour,

Conte (RC):    so that you may be mindful of those

words that I preached to you from the holy prophets,

and of the precepts of the Apostles of your Lord

and Savior.


3:2                   That ye may be mindful.  We have already seen in 1:19 how great a stress Peter lays upon the word of prophecy.  The reference is especially to the prophecies which relate to the Second Coming of Christ.  [50]

of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets.  The predictions of the prophets before the advent of the Savior, respecting his character and work. Peter had before appealed to them (2 Peter 1:19-21), as furnishing important evidence in regard to the truth of the Christian religion, and valuable instruction in reference to its nature.  Many of the most important doctrines respecting the kingdom of the Messiah are stated as clearly in the Old Testament as in the New Testament (compare Isaiah 53:1-12), and the prophecies therefore deserve to be studied as an important part of divine revelation.  It should be added here, however, that when Peter wrote there was this special reason why he referred to the prophets, that the canon of the New Testament was not then completed, and he could not make his appeal to that.  To some parts of the writings of Paul he could and did appeal 2 Peter 3:15-16, but probably a very small part of what is now the New Testament was known to those to whom this epistle was addressed.  [31]

[“The holy prophets”] appealed to before in 2 Peter 1:19.  (Compare Jude, verse 17.)  The coherence of the Epistle as a whole comes out strongly in this last chapter:  2 Peter 3:1 recalls 1 Peter 1:12-13; 2 Peter 3:17 recalls 2 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 3:18 recalls 2 Peter 1:5-8.  In this verse the Apostle commends the warnings of the Old Testament and the New Testament, as to the coming of Christ, to Christians throughout all ages.  [46]

and of the commandment of us the [your, ESV, NASB] apostles of the Lord and Saviour.  Notice concerning the authority of the New Testament as compared with the Old, and how the apostle places his writings on a par with the prophets.  [32]

As being equally entitled with the prophets to state and enforce the doctrines and duties of religion.  It may be observed, that no man would have used this language who did not regard himself and his fellow apostles as inspired, and as on a level with the prophets.  [31]

The conjunction of “prophets” and “apostles” here is so entirely after the pattern of the like combination in Ephesians 2:20, 3:5, 4:11, that there can scarcely be a doubt that the writer meant at least to include the New Testament prophets who had spoken of the coming of the Lord, and whose predictions were now derided.  [38]

                        The expression “your apostles” as evidence of genuine Petrine authorship:  The expression “your Apostles” may be taken as a mark of genuineness rather than of the contrary.  It is at least not improbable that a true Apostle, having once stated his credentials (2 Peter 1:1), would sink his own personality in the group of his colleagues from a feeling of humility and of delicacy towards those whom he was addressing, especially when they owed their Christianity mainly to other Apostles than himself.  It is not improbable that a writer personating an Apostle would have insisted on his assumed personality and personal authority here.  [46]

                        A technical note on the closing words of verse 2:  Instead of the pronoun of the first person which leads to the rendering of the A. V., “the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior,” the best authorities give the pronoun of the second person. We thus get a sentence which is variously translated.  Some, e.g., render it “your commandment of the Lord of the apostles,” meaning by that “the commandment given you by Him who is the Lord of the apostles.”  Others put it thus: “your commandment of the apostles, of the Lord,” that is to say, “your commandment, which the apostles, nay, the Lord Himself, gave.”  Literally, however, it may be rendered, “and your apostles’ commandment of the Lord and Savior,” i.e. the commandment given by the Lord and Savior, and made known to you by your apostles.  [51]
                        the commandment. 
What commandment is meant?  Surely not the whole Christian law; but either the command to beware of false teachers (Matthew 7:15; Matthew 24:5, 11; Mark 13:22; Romans 16:17; Ephesians 5:6; 2 Timothy 4:3), or, more probably, what is the main subject of this Epistle, to be ready for Christ’s coming (Matthew 24:36-39; Mark 13:35-37; Luke 12:40; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4).  [46]

                        Or:  What direction had the Lord given respecting bewaring of false Christs and false prophets?—the plainest possible, and He warned them that they would “deceive, if it were possible, the very elect” (Mark 13:22). [41]

                        of [your, ESV, NASB] apostles of the Lord and Saviour.  As edited by Tischendorf according to three chief manuscripts, “your apostles.”  [40]   

These are your apostles as sent to you, and Christ’s, as sent by Him.  [39]

                        The expression “your apostles” may point to Paul and those who were united with him in the original evangelization of these parts.  [51]



3:3                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     But, above all, remember that, in the last days, men will come who make a mock at everything--men governed only by their own passions,

WEB:              knowing this first, that in the last days mockers will come, walking after their own lusts,

Young’s:         this first knowing, that there shall come in the latter end of the days scoffers, according to their own desires going on,

Conte (RC):    Know this first: that in the last days

there will arrive deceitful mockers, walking

according to their own desires, 


3:3                   Knowing this first.  The same phrase is used in 1:20.  The fact mentioned in this verse was to be specially borne in mind, because it met the crucial difficulty of the hour, the appearance of the false teachers.  [45]

As among the first and most important things to be attended to--as one of the predictions which demand your special regard.  Jude (verse 18) says that the fact that there would be “mockers in the last time,” had been particularly foretold by them.  It is probable that Peter refers to the same thing, and we may suppose that this was so well understood by all the apostles that they made it a common subject of preaching.  [31]

that there shall come in the last days.  As a reference to events in the last days the Mosaical Law was still in effect and could still be practiced in the Temple:  Literally, “last of the days” (of the Jewish dispensation, as always).  [3]    

As a reference to events of the Christian dispensation that spans from the end of the Mosaical system to the end of earth time:  This means, in the days of the Christian dispensation; the period which began with the last days of Pentecost or first Whitsun day, and which will continue unto the end.  For similar expressions, describing Christian times, see, in the Old Testament, Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1, Joel 2:28; and in the New Testament, 1 Timothy 4:1, 1 John 2:18.  [42]

In a similar vein:  In the last dispensation; in the period during which the affairs of the world shall be wound up.  The apostle does not say that that was the last time in the sense that the world was about to come to an end; nor is it implied that the period called “the last day” might not be a very long period, longer in fact than either of the previous periods of the world.  He says that during that period it had been predicted there would arise those whom he here calls “scoffers.”  [31]

As a reference to the events preceding the physical and second coming of the Lord at the end of earth time:  The very caution defines the phrase.  They are “the last days” before the second advent, however far or near that day may be.  That they may be a very distant last days it is the very purpose of the present passage to show, and to explain that the distance of time is not contradictory to the immediacy of the terms.  [39]

scoffers.  In Jude (verse 18) the same Greek word is rendered “mockers.”  The word means those who deride, reproach, ridicule.  There is usually in the word the idea of contempt or malignity toward an object.  Here the sense seems to be that they would treat with derision or contempt the predictions respecting the advent of the Savior, and the end of the world.  It would appear probable that there was a particular or definite class of men referred to; it scarcely required inspiration to foresee that there would be “scoffers” in the general sense of the term for they have abounded in every age; [hence] the eye of the apostle is evidently on a particular class of people.  [ ? ]

[Often added here words such as “with scoffing” {ESV} or “with their mocking” [NASB]].  A more precise translation:  There is a remarkable reading supported by all the principal manuscripts:  “Scoffers in scoffing.”  Adopting the common Hebrew intensifying idiom, “going beyond all other scoffers in their ridicule and profaneness.”  [41]  Presumably this is what led to the NASB’s wording in this verse.  [rw]

This longer reading has documentary support which is not to be resisted.  The A.V., by omitting the phrase “in mockery,” which is quite in consonance with the Hebraic cast of much else in the Petrine Epistles, strips the statement of its most graphic stroke.  When these mockers come, they will come in character.  [51]

walking after their own lusts.  Living in open sin, and deriding the warnings of the gospel.  [34] 

They follow the devices and desires of their own hearts, and carnal corrupt affections, not the dictates and directions of right reason and an enlightened well-informed judgment.  [5]

This is given as the ground of their mocking temper.  The habit of self-indulgence is at all times the natural parent of the cynical and scoffing sneer.  [38]

                        Paul also gives warning of the appearance of such men (Acts 20:29-30; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).  [50]



3:4                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     and, asking, "What has become of His promised Return? For from the time our forefathers fell asleep all things continue as they have been ever since the creation of the world."

WEB:              and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."

Young’s:         and saying, 'Where is the promise of his presence? for since the fathers did fall asleep, all things so remain from the beginning of the creation;'

Conte (RC):    } saying: “Where is his promise or

his advent? For from the time that the fathers have

slept, all things have continued just as they were

from the beginning of creation.”


3:4                   And saying.  As their appearance had been predicted thus in connection with the Lord’s return, the very existence and words of such scoffers proved the truth which they attempted to deny.  [7]

Where is the promise of His coming?  Not meaning, of course, “In what passages of Scripture is any such promise to be found?”—but, “What has come of it? where is there any accomplishment of it?”  (Compare Psalms 42:3, 79:10; Jeremiah 17:15; Malachi 2:17.)  [46]

That is, either, Where is the “fulfillment” of that promise; or, Where are the “indications” or “signs” that He will come?  They evidently meant to imply that the promise had utterly failed; that there was not the slightest evidence that it would be accomplished; that they who had believed this were entirely deluded.  It is possible that some of the early Christians, even in the time of the apostles, had undertaken to fix the time when these events would occur, as many have done since; and that as that time had passed by, they inferred that the prediction had utterly failed.  But whether this were so or not, it was easy to allege that the predictions respecting the second coming of the “Savior” seemed to imply that the end of the world was near, and that there were no indications that they would be fulfilled.  The laws of nature were uniform, as they had always been, and the alleged promises had failed. [31]

The question indicates a belief on the part of the “mockers” (Jude 18) that the promise of the Parousia is vain.  [16]

His coming?  The “coming” is again expressed here by the word parousia.  The question, put with triumphant scorn by these mockers, repeats the cherished terms used by believers—the “promise” in which they trusted, the “coming “which they looked for with vivid expectancy, the very form (“His Coming,” not “Christ’s Coming,” or the “Lord’s Coming”) in which they were accustomed to refer to Him who was so much the one object of their thoughts as to need no identification by name among them.  “Those who believe,” says Bengel, “having the heart filled with the memory of the Lord, easily supply the name.” [51]

for since the fathers.  Overview of interpretive options:  What fathers are meant?  Four answers have been given to this question:  (1) The ancestors of the human race; (2) the patriarchs and prophets; (3) the first generation of Christians; (4) each generation of men in relation to those following.  Probably nothing more definite than our remote ancestors is intended.  [46]

Embracals of these varied specific options:  Our first ancestors.  [15]

i.e. the men of Old Testament times: compare Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:1.  [24]

Ordinarily, the “fathers,” as in Romans 9:5, would carry our thoughts back to the great progenitors of Israel as a people.  Here, however, the stress laid by the mockers on the death of the fathers as the starting-point of the frustrated expectation, seems to give the word another application, and we may see in the “fathers” the first generation of the disciples of Christ, those who had “fallen asleep” without seeing the Advent they had looked for (1 Thessalonians 4:15); those who had reached the “end of their conversation” (Hebrews 13:7).  [38]
                        However:  There is a passage quoted by Clement of Rome (circ. A.D. 100) which seems at first sight to contain a reference to this verse:  “Far be from us this Scripture where He saith, Wretched are the double-minded, who doubt in heart and say, These things we heard in the times of our fathers also, but behold, we have grown old, and none of them has happened to us” (Epistle to the Corinthians, xxiii.).  The quotation by Clement [whether referring specifically to this text or not] is important as a complete refutation of the objection that “the fathers” means the first Christians, and consequently no such scoffing argument as this would be possible in the lifetime of Peter.  This very argument was not only in existence, but was condemned in a document which Clement before the close of the first century could quote as “Scripture.”  Compare Epistle of Polycarp, chap. vii.: “Whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts, and says there is neither resurrection nor judgment, he is the firstborn of Satan.”  [46]

fell asleep.  A literal and correct translation of the word, which occurs frequently in the New Testament, but only here in Peter.  Some have supposed that the peculiarly Christian sense of the word is emphasized ironically by these mockers.  It is used, however, in classical Greek to denote death.  The difference between the pagan and the Christian usage lies in the fact that, in the latter, it was defined by the hope of the resurrection, and therefore was used literally of a sleep, which, though long, was to have an awaking.  [2]

Death is naturally compared to sleeping because every sleep comes to an end with an awakening to a new day.  Extinction of being, in vivid contrast, never comes to an end and could never reasonably be described as sleeping.  [rw]

In the use of the verb to “fall asleep” for dying, we are reminded of our Lord’s words “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth” (John 11:11); of Paul’s “many sleep” (1 Corinthians 11:30).  So in Greek sculpture Death and Sleep appear as twin genii, and in Greek and Roman epitaphs nothing is more common than the record that the deceased “sleeps” below.  Too often there is the addition, as of those who were without hope, “sleeps an eternal sleep.”  In Christian language the idea of sleep is perpetuated in the term “cemetery” (κοιμητήριον = sleeping-place) as applied to the burial-place of the dead, but it is blended with that of an “awaking out of sleep” at the last day, and even with the thought, at first seemingly incompatible with it, that the soul is quickened into higher energies of life on its entrance into the unseen world.  [38]

all things continue as they were.  Rather, “as they are.”  The error has probably arisen from a desire to get rid of the slight difficulty of two dates being given:  (1) from the death of “the fathers,” and (2) from the beginning of the creation.  The suggestion that “the fathers” are the first progenitors of the human race is another attempt to get rid of the difficulty by making the two dates virtually one and the same.  But the second date is an after-thought, frequent in Thucydides, intensifying and strengthening the first.  Since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they are—nay, more, since the beginning of the creation.  [46]

The argument here--for it was doubtless designed to be an argument--is based on the stability of the laws of nature, and the uniformity of the course of events.  Thus far, all these predictions had failed. Things continued to go on as they had always done.  The sun rose and set; the tides ebbed and flowed; the seasons followed each other in the usual order; one generation succeeded another, as had always been the case; and there was every indication that those laws would continue to operate as they had always done. [31]

from the beginning of the creation.  This continuance is not just of things that can be dated to a “recent” origin but of the fundamentals that have existed from the first knowing thought of the human species.  [rw]

                        The ancient order had lasted for ages, and was not likely to be upset; what always has been, so they insinuated, always will be, and always ought to be.  [45]


                        In depth:  The very “modern” sound of the arguments of these ancient skeptics [7].  It may be noted that there is a very modern accent in the two grounds on which their denial is based:  first, the lapse of time since the promise was made; and second, the improbability of its fulfillment:  “for, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”  That is to say, first, our Lord had suggested that His return might be at an early date, and now practically a generation had passed away, at least most of the early fathers of the Church were dead, and as Christ had not returned there must be some mistake about His promise or the common interpretation of His promise; He had not come, so, the scoffers concluded, he would not come.

                        The second objection sounds quite as familiar to-day:  “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation”; that is to say, law is uniform, miracle is impossible, the sole process in the universe is evolution, the supernatural is inconceivable; the return of Christ with its attendant circumstances is absolutely miraculous, catastrophic, supernatural; therefore it is the foolish dream of fanatics and not worth the serious thought of men of enlightenment and culture.

                        This second objection Peter at once discusses; the first he meets in the next paragraph.  As to the “uniformity of nature,” is it true that there has been no divine act, no  supernatural intervention?”  Do not these scoffers “willfully forget” and stubbornly neglect certain known facts?  How did the world come into being, and how was the  process of evolution” begun; were these not “by the word of God?”  Or, how about the flood?  was it not by this same divine Word that  “the world . . . being overflowed with water, perished?”  If God sent a deluge to punish a guilty world, is it not possible that Christ may appear in flaming fire to punish the ungodly and to deliver his saints? 


                        In depth:  Ancient references to this way of thinking [37].  A passage from an apocryphal book (unknown, but not improbably the prophecy of Eldad and Medad) which is quoted both in the genuine Epistle of Clement of Rome (cir. 90 A.D.) and in the ancient sermon known as his Second Epistle deserves to be given here.  “Miserable are the waverers, that waver in their soul and say, ‘These things we heard long ago even in our fathers’ days, but we, expecting them day after day, have seen nothing of them.’  (Variant: ‘And, lo, we have grown old, and none of these things has befallen us.’)  O fools, compare yourselves to a tree.  Take the vine.  First it sheds its leaves, then comes a shoot, then a leaf, then a flower, then a young grape, and then the cluster is ready.  Even so also my people hath suffered disturbance and affliction and thereafter shall be recompensed with good.”

                        Similarly an ancient Jewish comment on Psalm 89:50 “slandered the footsteps of thine anointed” is “they have scoffed at the slowness of Messiah’s coming”; and again “He delays so long, that they say, He will never come.”

                        It is possible that our writer is referring to the Jewish book quoted by Clement, or to a similar source.  At least we see that the murmuring was current outside Christian circles.



3:5                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     For they are wilfully blind to the fact that there were heavens which existed of old, and an earth, the latter arising out of water and extending continuously through water, by the command of God;

WEB:              For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth formed out of water and amid water, by the word of God;

Young’s:         for this is unobserved by them willingly, that the heavens were of old, and the earth out of water and through water standing together by the word of God,

Conte (RC):    But they willfully ignore this: that

the heavens existed first, and that the earth, from

water and through water, was established by the

Word of God.


3:5                   For this they willingly are ignorant of.  Literally, “For this escapes their notice of their own will.”  They voluntarily blind their eyes to this fact.  [46]

Willfully; they do not wish to know.  Their ignorance is voluntary.  [20]

                        Men do not know the truth because they wish not to know it.  [39]

                        There is some considerable variety in the translation of this passage.  In our common version the Greek word (θέλοντας thelontas) is rendered as if it were an adverb, or as if it referred to their “ignorance” in regard to the event; meaning, that while they might have known this fact, they took no pains to do it, or that they preferred to have its recollection far from their minds.  So Beza and Luther render it.  Others, however, take it as referring to what follows, meaning, being so minded; being of that opinion; or affirming.”  So Bloomfield, Robinson (Lexicon), Mede, Rosenmuller,  etc. According to this interpretation the sense is, “They who thus will or think; that is, they who hold the opinion that all things will continue to remain as they were, are ignorant of this fact that things have not always thus remained; that there has been a destruction of the world once by water.”  The Greek seems rather to demand this interpretation; and then the sense of the passage will be, “It is concealed or hidden from those who hold this opinion, that the earth has been once destroyed.” [31]

are ignorant of.  Ignorant not out of not knowing but in the sense of refusing to let the knowledge have an impact on their conclusions.  Today we might say, “It can’t happen, so it won’t happen.”  Hence I don’t have to worry about it even though—as one example, I live in the highest crime area in the city and there’s been a murder once a week for the last month.  It will “never happen to me”—until it does. Their proper line of reasoning should have been that since it’s happened before it can happen again--indeed, will happen . . . if the Lord says it will.  [rw]

[Things] have not been so stable and uniform that the world has never been destroyed by an overwhelming visitation from God.  It has been destroyed by a flood; it may be again by fire.  There was the same improbability that the event would occur, so far as the argument from the stability of the laws of nature is concerned, in the one case that there is in the other, and consequently the objection is of no force.  [31] 
that by the word of God.  By the command of God.  “He spoke, and it was done.”  Compare Genesis 1:6, 9; Psalm 33:9.  The idea here is, that everything depends on His word or will.  As the heavens and the earth were originally made by his command, so by the same command they can be destroyed.  [31]

“By the word of God;” not by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, not by spontaneous generation. In the Shepherd of Hermas (I. Vis. I. iii. 4) we read, “Behold, the God of virtues (powers). . . . by His mighty word has fixed the heaven, and laid the foundation of the earth upon the waters.”  [46]

the heavens were of old.  The word “heaven” in the Scriptures sometimes refers to the atmosphere, sometimes to the starry worlds as they appear above us, and sometimes to the exalted place where God dwells.  Here it is used, doubtless, in the popular signification, as denoting the heavens as they “appear,” embracing the sun, moon, and stars.  [31]

and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.  More accurately, and the earth formed out of water and by means of water.  The words carry us back, as before, to the cosmogony of Genesis 1.  The earth was brought out of chaos into its present kosmos, by the water being gathered into one place and the dry land appearing (Genesis 1:9).  It was kept together by the separation of the waters above the firmament from those that were below the firmament (Genesis 1:6).  The Apostle speaks naturally from the standpoint of the physical science of his time and country, and we need not care to reconcile either his words or those of Genesis 1 with the conclusions of modern meteorological science.  The equivalent fact in the language of that science would be that the permanence of the existing order of the world is secured by the circulation of water, rising in evaporation, and falling in the form of rain, between the higher and lower regions of the atmosphere, and that there must have been a time when this circulation began to supervene on a previous state of things that depended on different conditions.  [38]

                        Or:  What the Apostle seems to mean is that the earth rises above the water and is surrounded by it, so that the water was ready at any time by a further fiat of God to submerge the earth. [41]                 

                        A different approach stressing the alternate translation:  “the earth was from out of water and through water” [ESV]/ “by water” [NASB].  Peter here refers to the account of creation given in Genesis 1:10.  A twofold significance is attributed to water:  (1)  the world originated out of water, out of the dark deep upon which the Spirit of God moved, to which original state of matter immediately after its creation the Hebrew writer gives the name of water (Genesis 1:2), for the word mayim does not necessarily mean waters, but applies just as well to the gaseous condition in which primeval created matter largely existed; (2) the world originated through the agency of water (Genesis 1:7-9).  [50]



3:6                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     and that, by means of these, the then existing race of men was overwhelmed with water and perished.

WEB:              by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.

Young’s:         through which the then world, by water having been deluged, was destroyed;

Conte (RC):    By water, the former world then,

having been inundated with water, perished.


3:6                   Whereby the world that then was being overflowed with water.  “Whereby,” literally, “by which things.”  How is it that the words “by which” are in the plural?  The best explanation is that the earth was destroyed by two collections of water—the waters which were above the firmament poured forth their floods to drown the world, and the waters which were under the firmament, “the fountains of the great deep,” were broken up.  [41]

                        the world that then was . . . perished.  St. Peter does not mean that the earth itself perished, but only the “world,” that is, the orderly state of things upon the earth’s surface which the Creator had set in order for the use of man.  [41]

perished.  In the use of the word “perished,” or “was destroyed,” we have a proof, not to be passed over, as bearing indirectly upon other questions of dogmatic importance, that the word does not carry with it the sense of utter destruction or annihilation, but rather that of a change, or breaking up, of an existing order.  It is obvious that this meaning is that which gives the true answer to those who inferred from the continuity of the order of nature that there could be no catastrophic change in the future.  [38]


                        In depth:  The meaning of “world” in this verse [51].  The term used for “world” here is the one (cosmos) which describes it as a system of order and beauty, and presents it (in distinction from another term aeon, which deals with it under the aspect of time) under the aspect of space.  It has a wide variety of application in the N.T., being equivalent, e.g., sometimes to the whole material universe (Matthew 13:35; John 17:5; John 21:25; Acts 17:4; Romans 1:20), sometimes to man’s world or the system of things of which he is the centre (John 16:21; 1 Corinthians 14:10; 1 John 3:17), sometimes to the totality of men occupying that system (John 1:29; John 4:42; 2 Corinthians 5:19), and sometimes to the “world” in the ethical sense of the totality of men living without God and outside His kingdom (John 1:10; 1 Corinthians 1:20-21; James 4:4; 1 John 3:13).  Here the phrase need not be restricted to the idea of the world of men, or of living creatures, but may cover the whole order of things, with the men occupying it, which existed prior to the Deluge


                        In depth:  What does the “whereby” refer to [51]?  The “whereby” of the A.V. represents a plural relative, “by means of which things,” the antecedent to which is not apparent.  Some take it to refer to the “heavens” and the “earth,” the idea then being either that the antediluvian world of living creatures was destroyed by the heavens and the earth uniting to overflow them with their waters (Hofmann, Beza, Fronmüller, etc.), or that the material system perished by means of the very things of which it consisted, in so far as the heavens and the earth, which made its constituents, broke up (Bede).

Others (Calvin, Lumby, etc.) suppose it to refer to the before-mentioned “water,” the writer using the plural relative instead of the singular, because he had in his mind the two several relations of water, as substance and as instrument, to the formation of the old world, or the two several waters, namely, those from above the firmament and those from beneath.  In support of this interpretation (which on the whole is the most widely accepted) appeal is made to the Mosaic record, which represents the windows of heaven as opening as well as the fountains of the great deep as being broken up. 

On the analogy of the indefinite “whereunto” in 1 Peter 2:8, some give the “whereby” here the general sense of “by means of which circumstances,” or “in consequence of which arrangement of things.”

Probably the best explanation, however, is to regard the relative as referring to the two things last mentioned, viz. the water and the Word of God; the point then being this, that the old and seemingly constant order of things perished by being overwhelmed with water, the agents of the destruction being the agents that first formed our earth and heavens, namely, the creative word of God and the element of water on which it acted.  And this unquestionable fact was sufficient refutation of the argument from all things having continued without change since the beginning of the creation.



3:7                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     But the present heavens and the present earth are, by the command of the same God, kept stored up, reserved for fire in preparation for a day of judgement and of destruction for the ungodly.

WEB:              But the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Young’s:         and the present heavens and the earth, by the same word are treasured, for fire being kept to a day of judgment and destruction of the impious men.

Conte (RC):    But the heavens and the earth that

exist now were restored by the same Word, being

reserved unto fire on the day of judgment, and unto

 the perdition of impious men.


3:7                   But the heavens and the earth, which are now.  As they now exist.  There is no difficulty here respecting what is meant by the word “earth,” but it is not so easy to determine precisely how much is included in the word “heavens.”  It cannot be supposed to mean “heaven” as the place where God dwells; nor is it necessary to suppose that Peter understood by the word all that would now be implied in it, as used by a modern astronomer.  The word is doubtless employed in a popular signification, referring to the “heavens as they appear to the eye;” and the idea is, that the conflagration would not only destroy the earth, but would change the heavens as they now appear to us. If, in fact, the earth with its atmosphere should be subjected to an universal conflagration, all that is properly implied in what is here said by Peter would occur.  [31]

by the same [His, NASB] word.  That command of power of God by which the world was created. [14]

He has only to give command, and all will be destroyed.  The laws of nature have no stability independent of His will, and at his pleasure all things could be reduced to nothing, as easily as they were made.  A single word, a breath of command, from one Being, a Being over whom we have no control, would spread universal desolation through the heavens and the earth.  Notwithstanding the laws of nature, as they are called, and the precision, uniformity, and power with which they operate, the dependence of the universe on the Creator is as entire as though there were no such laws, and as though all were conducted by the mere will of the Most High, irrespective of such laws.  [31]

Technical note:  Instead of “by the same word” there is another reading, “by His word,” which is also weightily attested.  But the sense is practically the same, namely, that the same creative Word of God which first made the old heavens and earth, and afterwards overwhelmed the order of things which it had constructed, is still the sovereign agency that maintains the present heavens and earth and prepares for them their future destiny.  [51]

are kept in store [preserved, NKJV].  The apostle does not say that this is the only purpose for which the heavens and the earth are preserved, but that this is one object.  [31]

reserved unto fire.  As the world which then was reserved by the word or will of God to be overflowed by a deluge of water, so the existing heavens and earth are reserved for a deluge of fire.  As there were vast accumulations of water by which the earth was then destroyed, so there is now beneath the surface of the earth a still vast accumulation of molten matter which the power of God can call from its depths to destroy the surface of the earth.  [41]  

Commentators are about equally divided whether we should join “fire” with stored up as in the Revised text, or with being reserved.  There is scarcely any difference in thought.  Wordsworth:  “They are indeed treasured up; but not as these false teachers say, for eternity, but for fire, as the old world was treasured up for water; and they are treasured up by His word, that is, as long as He wills it, and no longer.  The word fire is emphatic, and therefore is placed last in the clause.  This reservation of the world for fire has been revealed by the old Prophets (Isaiah lxvi. 15-16; Daniel 7:9-11; Malachi 4:1).”  The same thought is also presented in the New Testament (Matthew 3:12; 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 19:20; 20:10).  [50]  

against the day of judgment.  This side of the day of judgment, evil often rules.  At that day all of them are revealed as sham successes as even the earth itself fails in all its glory.  [rw]

and perdition [destruction, ESV, NASB] of ungodly men.  They may prosper in this world, but when it is brought to an end all their delusions of success and glory will be shattered into a million pieces as they discover that, though God gave them the freedom of choice to act however they wished, He ultimately brings them to judgment for how they used that freedom as well.  Their delusions are destroyed, their prestige is destroyed, and they themselves suffer a punishment so discomforting that it can only be considered a “destruction” as well.  And the world they had prospered in fares no better.  [rw] 

The subjects of this “judgment and perdition” are described definitely as “the ungodly men” the article pointing either to the mockers who are in the writer’s mind all through, or serving simply to mark off from men generally one particular class, namely, that of the ungodly or impious.  [51]


In depth:  The text’s linking together as simultaneous of earthly destruction, day of Divine judgment, and punishment of evil doers [4].  From these words it seems to follow, first, that the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, and the conflagration of the world, must be contemporary; and that therefore “new heavens and new earth,” in the literal sense, must vainly be expected before the final judgment of ungodly men. 

Secondly, that the ungodly are not to be judged, or punished by fire, before the conflagration of the world: “for the heaven and earth that now are,” are to be burnt up with that very fire by which the ungodly are to be destroyed, they being left in the midst of those flames, whilst the godly, being snatched up into the air above the reach of them, “shall be for ever with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16); for the wicked are “reserved unto the day of judgment, to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9); that fire in which they are to be tormented and destroyed is reserved unto the same day (Matt. xxv. 41, 46); the fallen angels, for whom the fire is prepared in which the wicked shall be punished, are reserved to that day (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6):  and, lastly, Sodom and Gomorra, who perished by fire and brimstone, and set forth “as an example” of that punishment the wicked shall suffer at that great day of retribution (2 Peter 2:5, Jude 7):  they are not therefore to be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, before that day.


                        In depth:  The argument that this judgment by “fire” no more involves the destruction of the planet than does that of the “water” in Noah’s day [45].  The judgment of sinners in the overthrow of the present dispensation is a long-standing purpose of God (cf. Jude [verses] 14-15).  Fire is often spoken of in the Old Testament as destroying Jerusalem, Babylon, &c., and is a common figure for God’s judgment upon sinners.  The passing away or perishing of heaven and earth is announced in Psalms 102:26; Revelation 21:1; but our passage is the only really explicit statement in the Bible of the final destruction of the physical universe by fire.  Even here, as destruction is also applied to the Flood, it means radical reconstitution rather than annihilation.  Josephus, Antiquities, I. ii.3, states that Adam predicted that the universe would be twice destroyed, once by fire and once by water.  [45]


                        In depth:  The event being spoken of in this section can not possibly refer to the destruction of Jerusalem [47, quoting an unidentified source].  “In regard that Hammond and some other celebrated commentators understand this prophecy as a prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, it will be proper here to inform the reader, that in support of their interpretation they appeal to the ancient Jewish prophecies, where, as they contend, the revolutions in the political state of empires and nations are foretold in the same forms of expression with those introduced in St. Peter’s prediction.  The following are the prophecies to which they appeal:  Isaiah 34:4; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10, 30-31; Amos 8:9; Haggai 2:6; Matthew 24:29.

Now it is remarkable, in these prophecies none of the prophets have spoken, as Peter has done, of the entire destruction of this mundane system, nor of the destruction of any part thereof.  They mention only the rolling of the heavens together as a scroll, the obscuring of the light of the sun and of the moon, the shaking of the heavens and the earth, and the falling down of the stars.  Whereas Peter speaks of the utter destruction of all the parts of this mundane system by fire.

This difference affords room for believing that the events foretold by the prophets are different in their nature from those foretold by the apostle; and that they are to be figuratively understood, while those predicted by the apostle are to be understood literally.  To this conclusion likewise the phraseology of the prophets, compared with that of the apostle, evidently leads.

For the prophetic phraseology, literally interpreted, exhibits impossibilities; such as the rolling of the heavens together as a scroll, the turning of the moon into blood, and the falling down of the stars from heaven as the leaf of a tree.  Not so the apostolic phraseology.  For the burning of the heavens, or atmosphere, and its passing away with a great noise, and the burning of the earth and the works thereon, together with the burning and melting of the elements, that is, of the constituent parts of which this terraqueous globe is composed, are all things possible, and therefore may be literally understood; while the things mentioned by the prophets can only be taken figuratively.

This, however, is not all.  There are things in the apostle’s prophecy which show that he intended it to be taken literally.  As, 1st, He begins with an account of the perishing of the old world, to demonstrate, against the scoffers, the possibility of the perishing of the present heavens and earth. But that example would not have suited his purpose unless, by the burning of the present heavens and earth, he had meant the destruction of the material fabric.  Wherefore the opposition stated in this prophecy between the perishing of the old world by water, and the perishing of the present world by fire, shows that the latter is to be as real a destruction of the material fabric as the former was.

2d, The circumstances of the present heavens and earth being treasured up and kept, ever since the first deluge, from all after deluges, in order to their being destroyed by fire at the day of judgment, shows that the apostle is speaking of a real, and not of a metaphorical destruction of the heavens and the earth.

3d, This appears likewise from the apostle’s foretelling, that after the present heavens and earth are burned, a new heaven and a new earth are to appear, in which the righteous are to dwell for ever.

4th, The time fixed by the apostle for the burning of the heavens and the earth, namely, the day of judgment and punishment of ungodly men, shows that the apostle is speaking, not of the destruction of a single city or nation during the subsistence of the world, but of the earth itself, with all the wicked who have dwelt thereon.  These circumstances show that this prophecy, as well as the one recorded [in] 2 Thessalonians 1:9, is not to be interpreted metaphorically of the destruction of Jerusalem, but should be understood literally of the destruction of our mundane system, and of the general judgment.”  


                        In depth:  How the day of judgement and fire fits into other New and Old Testament passages [51].  This statement on the destiny of the present system of things is the fullest and most precise of its kind in the N.T.  It has parallels so far in the N.T. doctrine, in such passages as Matthew 5:18, 24, 29; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 12:27; Revelation 21:1. 

In speaking of fire as the agent in the second judicial destruction of the world, as water was in the first, it founds on the history of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as typical of the final judgment of the impious, and on the O.T. conception of God as accompanied by fire when He comes forth to judge (Psalms 1:3; Psalms 97:3; Isaiah 66:15-16, 24; Daniel 7:9-10).  Other O.T. passages (e.g. Psalms 102:26-27; Job 14:12; Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 66:22) speak more generally of the passing away of the present system.

And as the O.T. for the most part connects that event with the judgments of Jehovah and the day of His “recompense,” Peter connects it with the day of Christ’s Coming.  “The present form of the world is protected by God’s word of promise (Genesis 9:11) against any recurring flood.  Yet if it, too, is to perish, there remains now only fire as the element to bring about this destruction; and as, on the ground of Old Testament representations, the wrathful judgment of God is regarded as a consuming fire, it is easy to think that the destruction of the world resulting from the day of judgment will be brought about by fire in a special sense, for which this present form of the world is, so to speak, reserved” (Weiss, Bib. Theol. ii. pp. 246, 247, Clark’s Trans.).



3:8                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     But there is one thing, dear friends, which you must not forget. With the Lord one day resembles a thousand years and a thousand years resemble one day.

WEB:              But don't forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Young’s:         And this one thing let not be unobserved by you, beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day;

Conte (RC):    Yet truly, let this one thing not escape

notice, most beloved, that with the Lord one day is

like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like

one day.


3:8                   But, beloved.  I’m not your enemy.  I’m your friend.  I say what I do because I love you.  [rw]

be not ignorant.  We are ignorant either because others haven’t taught us or because we haven’t taken time to think about it.  In this case, if they had merely stopped to consider how often the Lord threatened justice but did not bring it until far later, they could have comprehended that Divine delay is never an indication that God will let the issue “slip” and never act at all.  [rw]   

of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years.  What He has determined to accomplish a thousand years hence, is just as sure as if He had determined to accomplish it tomorrow.  [14]

A similar thought occurs in Psalms 90:4, “a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”  [31]

There seems little doubt but that Peter cites this because the coming of the Lord may be long delayed.  [41]

with the Lord.  The words [of this verse] lay stress on the difference between the divine and the human reckoning of time.  It does not designate God as being absolutely without limitations of time (cui nihil est praeteritum, nihil futurum, sed omnia praesentia; Aretius), for it is not the nature of God that is here in question, but God’s reckoning of time which He created along with the world, and the words only baring out that it is different from that of man.  [8]

Or:  Though, in the account of men, there is a great deal of difference between a day and a year, and a vast deal more between one day and a thousand years, yet in the account of God, who inhabits eternity, in which there is no succession, there is no difference; for all things past, present, and future, are ever before him, and the delay of a thousand years cannot be so much to him as the deferring of any thing for a day or an hour is to us.  [5]

Bengel:  “With God there is no such thing as long delay.  The age-dial of God differs from the hour-dial of man.  Its index shows all hours at once in the busiest action and most deep repose.  With Him time passes with neither less nor greater speed than suits His will and purpose.  He has no need to hasten or delay the end of things.  How can we comprehend this?”  [50]

and a thousand years as one day.  That is, no delay happens which is long to God.  As to a man of excessive wealth, a thousand guineas are as a single penny; so to the Eternal God a thousand years are as one day.  To Him the times pass away neither more slowly nor more quickly than is [appropriate] to Him and to His [purposes].  There is no reason why He should consider it needful either to delay or to hasten the end. [26] 

In twenty-four hours God can do as much as all His servants at home and abroad could not accomplish in a thousand years.  According to God’s chronology, it was on the morning of yesterday that Jesus died.  [33] 

But it must be observed, that neither the apostle nor the psalmist meant that God does not perceive any difference between the duration of a day and that of a thousand years; but that these differences do not affect either His designs, or actions, or felicity, as they do those of finite creatures.  So that what He brings to pass on the day he declares his purpose, is not more certain than what he will bring to pass a thousand years after such declaration.  In like manner, what is to be brought to pass a long time after His declaration, is not less certain than if it had been done when declared.  [47]

As showing the reliability of God’s promises and threats regardless of how long their fulfillment is in the future:  The Apostle means, that we are only to take especial care that that time, whensoever it shall come, may not seem long, and some things short; but to God nothing is either long or short; and He shows the same faithfulness in what He renders late as what early.  [11]


                        In depth:   Origin of the one day/thousand year equation and its use by later writers [46].   One day is with the Lord as a thousand years.—This half of the saying is quite original, and has no equivalent in Psalms 90:4.  The second half is only partially parallel to “a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday, when it is past.”  Consequently, we cannot be sure that the Apostle had this passage from the Psalms in his mind, though it is probable enough that he had.

That God can punish in one day the sins of a thousand years is a thought which is neither in the text nor in the context.  What is insisted on is simply this—that distinctions of long and short time are nothing in the sight of God; delay is a purely human conception.

Justin Martyr, about A.D. 145 (Trypho, lxxxi.), gives “the day of the Lord is as a thousand years” as a quotation, and in this form it is closer to 2 Peter 3:8 than to Psalms 90:4.  As another possible reference to our Epistle follows in the next chapter, it may be regarded as not improbable that Justin knew the Epistle.

But the saying may have been a favorite one, especially with those who held Millenarian views.  In the Epistle of Barnabas (xv. 4) we read, “For a day means with Him a thousand years, and He Himself witnesseth, saying, Behold, to-day shall be as a thousand years,” where for “to-day” the Codex Sinaiticus reads “the day of the Lord.”  Irenæus has “The day of the Lord is as a thousand years” twice—(V. xxiii. 2; xxviii. 3); Hippolytus has it once (Comm. on Daniel, Lagarde, p. 153); Methodius once (in Photius’ Bibliotheca, cod. 235).  In no case, however, is the context at all similar to the verses before us.


                        In depth:  Why is immediacy language used of a Final Event yet thousands of years in the future [39]?   One day . . . a thousand years”—In the prophetic predictions of the second advent the Spirit speaks by the arithmetic of God, in which the terms soon, quickly, humanly indicating a few days, divinely allow a few ages. Psalms 90.  And now the question may well arise, Why has inspiration thus used phrases of such nearness to designate an event which was to be, as near two thousand years’ experience has proved, so distant?  Or, to express the thought in higher terms, Why has a divine arithmetic been thus used to express such a distance to human minds?

Our reply would be this:  The Spirit’s purpose is, to preserve in our minds an impressive conception of its nearness in spite of its distance.  The divine intention is, to prevent our banishing it from our thoughts on account of its far futurity.  In its momentousness to us it is nigh at hand, and time is no rightful factor in our calculations.  Nay, the very greatness of its distance, far millenniums, perhaps, hence, demands that thought and language should bring it near.

Sensible [=Perceived] time is very relative.  To us in the intervening spirit-world millenniums may pass with inconceivable rapidity.  There ever is to us but a step, as it were, to the judgment-day. Hence, Scripture uniformly points us, with warning, not to the day of death, but to the resurrection and the judgment-seat of Christ.



3:9                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     The Lord is not slow in fulfilling His promise, in the sense in which some men speak of slowness. But He bears patiently with you, His desire being that no one should perish but that all should come to repentance.

WEB:              The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Young’s:         the Lord is not slow in regard to the promise, as certain count slowness, but is long-suffering to us, not counselling any to be lost but all to pass on to reformation,

Conte (RC):    The Lord is not delaying his promise,

as some imagine, but he does act patiently for your

sake, not wanting anyone to perish, but wanting all

to be turned back to penance.


3:9                   The Lord is not slack.  Not unmindful, not indifferent to his word.  [7]

                        It is always in His power to fulfill His promise. [26]

                        The “slack” here (the verb occurs only once again, in 1 Timothy 3:15, where it is rendered “tarry”) means tardy, dilatory, late.  [51]

                        When people, after a considerable lapse of time, fail to fulfill their engagements, we infer that it is because they have changed their plans, or because they have forgotten their promises, or because they have no ability to perform them, or because there is a lack of principle which makes them fail, regardless of their obligations.  But no such inference can be drawn from the apparent delay of the fulfillment of the divine purposes.  Whatever may be the reasons why they seem to be deferred, with God, we may be sure that it is from no such causes as these.  [31]

                        Who is “the Lord” in this context?  We are in doubt whether “the Lord” means Christ or God the Father.  In 2 Peter 3:8 “the Lord” certainly means God; and this is in favor of the same meaning here.  On the other hand, “concerning His promise” naturally refers to Christ’s promise that He will return.  The same doubt recurs with regard to 2 Peter 3:15).  By “is not slack is meant “does not delay beyond the time appointed.”  There is no dilatoriness; He waits, but is never slow, is never late.  [46]

                        concerning his promise.  Of a future judgment.  [14]

                        i.e. doth not defer the fulfilling of it beyond the appointed time, Isaiah 60:22.  [28]

                        Apocrypha:  Ecclus. 35:18 says of the punishment of the wicked, “The Lord will not be slack, neither will he be longsuffering toward them.”  [45]

as some men count slackness.  The persons referred to are supposed by some to be still the false teachers. In view of the very general nature of the statement, others, with more reason, deem them to be believers of weak spiritual perception, or doubtful faith.  [51]

It is probable that the apostle here had his eye on some professing Christians who had become disheartened and impatient, and who, from the delay in regard to the coming of the Lord Jesus, and from the representations of those who denied the truth of the Christian religion, arguing from that delay that it was false, began to fear that his promised coming would indeed never occur.  To such he says that it should not be inferred from his delay that he would not return, but that the delay should be regarded as an evidence of his desire that men should have space for repentance, and an opportunity to secure their salvation. [31]

but is longsuffering to us-ward.  The “long-suffering of God” which had shown itself then, as in the history of Genesis 6:3, in the delay of a hundred and twenty years between the first prophetic warning of the coming judgment and the actual deluge, was manifested now in the interval, longer than the first disciples had anticipated, between the first and the second comings of the Christ.  We ask, as we read the words, whether the Apostle, as he wrote them, contemplated the period of well-nigh two thousand years which has passed since without the expected Advent; and we have no adequate data for answering that question.  [38]  The most he was likely to have in mind was that it could be a lot longer than anyone expected and, therefore, it was vital not to demand that it occur before the Lord’s own time table.  [rw]

As Augustine puts it, God is patiens quia aeternus—longsuffering because He is eternal.  [46]

This conception of the Divine “long-suffering,” which is so frequent in the Old Testament, is prominent in the Pauline writings (cf. such passages as Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22, 1 Timothy 1:16).  It appears a second time in this same chapter (2 Peter 3:15), and also in 1 Peter 3:20.  When a human promise fails to be fulfilled according to expectation, those to whom it has been made are in the habit of attributing the delay to a slackness which betrays unwillingness or some personal end.  But if the Lord seems to be slow in fulfilling His promise, that is not to be explained, Peter means, as men are tempted to explain such slowness on the part of their fellow-men, as due to forgetfulness, lack of interest, procrastination, or anything personal to Himself only.  Its explanation lies in something which touches our interest, and illustrates His grace.  [51]

Apocrypha:  “(8) What is a human being, what purpose does he serve? What is good and what is bad for him?  (9) The length of his life: a hundred years at most.  (10)  Like a drop of water from the sea, or a grain of sand, such are these few years compared with eternity.  (11)  This is why the Lord is patient with them and pours out his mercy on them.”  (Sirach 18 – New Jerusalem Bible)

not willing that any should perish.  Every sinner should consider the fact that he is not cut down in his sins, not as a proof that God will not punish the wicked, but as a demonstration that He is now forbearing, and is willing that he should have an ample opportunity to obtain eternal life.  No one should infer that God will not execute His threats, unless he can look into the most distant parts of a coming eternity.  [31]

Cf. Ezekiel 18:32, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord Jehovah:  wherefore turn yourselves and live.”  [45]

but that all should come to repentance.  By waiting so long before He brings destruction on the wicked, He shows His desire that they should repent and be saved. [14]











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